White-tailed Ptarmigan

Created on Day 5

on July 28, 2011

The white-tailed ptarmigan molts twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.


White-tailed Ptarmigan

The white-tailed ptarmigan molts twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. When it molts in the fall, its new feathers are white, but when it molts again in the spring, its new feathers are brown. This allows the ptarmigan to blend into its surroundings all year round. This species also knows how to adapt to colder weather. Some of its habits include hiding in rock piles or even pockets under the snow.


  • All three species of ptarmigans are rather round birds with variously mottled brown, black, and gray plumage in the summer, a black beak, and feathered feet.
  • The white-tailed ptarmigan has white tail feathers, while the other two species of ptarmigan have black tail feathers.

Fun Facts

  • The ptarmigan has feathers on its feet to help it walk on the snow.
  • This bird likes to walk more than it does to fly.
  • It eats grit to help it digest its food.

Created Kind Members

Willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan

CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Galliformes (chicken-like birds)
FAMILY: Tetraonidae (grouse)
GENUS/SPECIES: Lagopus leucurus

Size: 11–16 in (0.3 m)
Weight: Average less than 1 lb (0.5 kg)
Original Diet: Plants
Present Diet: Plants and insects
Habitat: Alpine meadows and rocky areas at or above the tree line, from Alaska to northern Washington, Montana, and the Rocky Mountain states

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